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News Makers

I am beginning to realize that the well known TV media outlets are no longer in the business of reporting news. Reporting no longer means presenting the facts of a news story and letting the consumer make their own decisions. Instead, we are presented with tantalizing bits of information surrounded by sound bytes and so called experts pontificating about how we should think about what has been presented. It is as though the movers and shakers within that business have decided that we can't handle the actual news and we need to be spoon fed what is important.

Here is the problem with that approach... I don't care about half the crap that they want to force down my throat and the rest of it is presented in such a way that it gives you either misleading or insufficient information to make a informed decision about what they are talking about.

Take for example, the Laci Peterson case. I feel really sorry that this pregnant woman disappeared and I do feel sorry for her family and friends that she ended up dead. But why do we have to keep hearing about it over and over again on the evening news. According to the latest statistics that I can find, there are over three woman killed per day by their domestic partners. So why do we have to keep hearing about this woman? It could be because she was pregnant at the time. Again, I do feel bad about that, but of those 1,200 women that are killed per year, I am sure some of them were pregnant. Why should I care about Laci Peterson? It seems that the main reason is because Tom Brokaw says that I should. I can't be the only person in the world that doesn't care that law enforcement searched her house several times and that they found some powder that might have been concrete in her husband's boat. The big boys at the NBC head office decided that for some reason or another, that this story should be really important to me. That is why we have to keep hearing about it.

Another example is this whole SARS thing. For those of you that don't know, SARS is a new form of the coronavirus. The coronavirus was previously known to cause colds in human beings and can cause other, more severe problems in animals. Now, the virus has changed in some way and is causing more severe symptoms and resulting in death in about 5% of the people that get it. If you watch the news, that is all you are presented with. All you see is video of children wearing masks and disinfecting everything. All you hear is so called experts saying how bad this epidemic is. Overall, pretty frightening if that is the only information that you have. According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, there are 5,050 people that have been diagnosed with SARS. Of those, 321 people have died. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 6,289,579,217 in the world. Based on those numbers, 0.00000008% of the world population has SARS and 0.000000005% of the world population has died from it. Granted, it does have the ability to spread more, but people are doing their jobs and helping to contain it. The spread of the disease has slowed and fewer people have been coming down with the disease. So why is there so much partial information being thrown around about it? I don't know, but I am getting fed up by it.

All I ask is for the media to stop trying to force feed me crap and spoon feed me information. People are smart enough to figure out what is important to them and, if they want the fluff, they can turn to the E! channel or something like that. Get over yourselves... You are not the only ones that understand the news and can digest the information.


The common comparison made to SARS is Influenza which kills upward of 20,000 – 70,000 people in the US every year. One major difference is that we currently have vaccines which can dramatically lower the risk those 65 and older. Today we have no such vaccine for SARS, and from majors sources the earliest ones are at least a year away. Also a look at history provides some interesting food for thought. Also keep in mind the population increases in recent years, so 80,000 people 70 years ago was a larger percentage of the population.

Considered among the greatest manifestations of disease in history, this pandemic afflicts two-thirds of the people of Rome and three-quarters of the population of Britain. Influenza also spreads widely in North America, the West Indies and Spanish America.

The Spanish Influenza 1918
By most accounts, the plague (and that's what it was, probably the most vicious in history) began at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas. In March of 1918, a single soldier, Albert Gitchell, reported to sick call in the morning. By day's end, there were nearly a hundred soldiers ill.
Within months, it had swept the world in a whirlwind of destruction. They called it "The Spanish Influenza; La Grippe; and other names. Ironically, American soldiers and Sailors who were being sent to save democracy and lives probably spread it. Over the course of a year, three waves of the Flu hammered humanity. Upwards of 50 million people died; more than 700,000 in the United States alone.

The Asian flu starts in southwest China in February 1957, possibly having originated in 1956 in Vladivostok, Russia, then spreads throughout the Pacific. Globally it affects 10 percent to 35 percent of the population, but overall mortality is much lower than in the 1918 epidemic, about 0.25 percent (H2N2).
Major antigenic shift causes the Hong Kong influenza epidemic. Hong Kong flu claims 700,000 lives worldwide, 34,000 in the United States (H3N2).

The study shows influenza is "a major cause of death in the U.S.," Keiji Fukuda, an influenza expert at the CDC, said during a teleconference.
The average number of deaths caused by the flu virus increased from 20,000 in the 1970s to 36,000 in 1999, the study reported. Fukuda noted the number of yearly deaths "can range from very few measurable deaths to up to 50-70,000 deaths in bad years."
The increase appears to be due to the fact the population is getting older, Fukuda said. "We're seeing an increase in vaccination rates but at the same time we're seeing an increase in older people," he said. The number of people aged 85 or older doubled between 1976 and 1999 and this group was 16 times more likely to die from the flu than people aged 65-69. In addition, 90 percent of influenza-associated deaths in the 1990s occurred in people who were 65 or older.

Back to my thoughts:

Considering historical precedence it seems a major eruption of influenza occurs at least once every other generation. Today we have modem technology to help treat and quarantine patients, but is this counterbalanced by our technology use to easy move thousands of people around the world in hours. Just as in the Spanish flu where it was believed one man infected hundreds in the military installation he was based it’s easier than ever to infect people all over the world almost overnight.
Another facet is in today’s ‘just in time society’ where billions of people who have no mean of self substance rely on a massive private and public infrastructures to deliver food, water and basic services, are we prepared for an epidemic of the proportion of the past? In societies of yesterday we much less reliant on these services, companies were not publicly traded and public and private debt was not as high. Today it seems most live on a razors edge of debt and stock earning off by just a penny send shockwaves though the financial markets.
We need to realize that continuing coverage of SARS is a tool to leverage telecommunication technology to try and prevent a pandemic. No other time in history have we had the opportunity to use mass media to inform people and allow them to be empowered and make choices to help prevent a worldwide outbreak. Of course with every blessing come two curses, yes we have to put up with SARS on the TV and radio, yes there is a certain cost of panic but if we use history as a guide I think it’s worth it.

Another angry fat man

You want to know what really sucks? The stupid doctors who figured out the new gene were trying to patent it so that any vaccine made again the new strain would be profitble to them.

What a bunch a selfish barfers. Here is a disease that has the 'potential' to do some damage in the world and all they can think about is how to make money off of the vacines....who said only Americans were Capitalists???

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